South Africa: Exploring Afro-Pop

Back in the ’80s as a school kid, one had heard some “African music” in the form of Osibisa who had toured India and I remember watching some stuff on Doordarshan though I can’t remember a single tune from then. Even a search through youtube did not refresh my memory. This particular piece by Osibisa seems to be the most popular but I don’t seem to have any memory of this.

Having said that, this is not about Osibisa. South Africa, top of mind for many especially a football fan, has a huge music culture and I had my first introduction through Paul Simon’s Graceland. But that was primarily driven because of my fondness for Simon’s tunes. And I didn’t pursue into Ladysmith Black Mambazo too much then. I didn’t even know what the style of music is called – the a capella of the European world. Doing a wiki search tells me it is called Isicathamaya (the ‘c’ is pronounced through a dental click – Isi ‘click’ thamaya).

Then I heard Miriam Makeba, Empress of the African song.  Recently on a road trip I got introduced to many more South African artists, mostly contemporary, like Freshly Ground and Malaika playing on the car mp3 player.

Freshly Ground is a contemporary multi-racial band. They are performing from their last album Doo Be Doo. Incidentally, they are doing the 2010 World Cup anthem. So watch out for that.

Malaika meaning angel in Swahili singing a hit from 2005 Hlauphel Amandhla. Somehow the tune sounds familiar. Has Pritam done something with this?

This is just the start. I have much more to explore. Afro-pop, the general term used to describe music of Africa has about 32 genres listed in wiki. At least 10 of them are South Africa based like kwaito and Cape Jazz.  So this also means long sessions on youtube and various torrent sites.

Will keep posting here, the music of South Africa.

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